Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Fantasy Novelist Exam

I came across this post on the blog Visions of Other Worlds today. It's The Fantasy Novelist's Exam, a "rip-off tip-off" sheet for all aspiring fantasy writers. Basically, it's a series of questions (sometimes sarcastic) by which to measure your fantasy story against.

Here are a few of my favorite questions from the exam:
2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage? 
8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?
17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
28.Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls? 
47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don't?
63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?
74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?
75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.
I would add:
76. Is your first book basically a rip-off of Star Wars? *coughcoughEragoncough*
Answering yes to any of the questions "results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once."

A little harsh, yes. I think a fantasy writer can get away with answering yes to one or two of these questions, but when you answer yes to more than seven (like Eragon. I say more than seven because after that I stopped counting) it's definitely time to rethink your story.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I did evaluate one of my fantasy stories using this checklist. The only one I said yes to was number 71. And in my defense, my bard doesn't play the lute. He... well, actually, all he can do is sing. And be used as a decoy. Yeah.

How does your fantasy story measure up to the exam? Any favorite questions?


  1. Are you going to throw away 'Wars of Armesia' now?

    1. I don't even know where that old story is.

  2. Thanks for the link, Lauren!

    I agree that one or two of the rules can be broken. In all reality, the checklist is supposed to get you thinking by being overly harsh, but more than one author could stand to take a look at it.

    My favorite has to be #59: "Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?" Happens especially in movies and TV series but I've seen fantasy authors start to use this more often. Hello? It's plate armor - it was invented to keep people from stabbing through it. ;)

    1. I know! That one seems really obvious. And sometimes it's the woman who does the stabbing. :)

  3. P.S. Love the name of your blog. Cool idea!

  4. Hi!! I loved finding your blog through Jessica up there, who said she found mine through yours. It was awesome to see you'd linked up to my blog - so cool!!! I don't recall you ever commenting, but thank you just the same. I'm going to be a regular reader on your blog from now on =)
    (Oh, and the - haha - Eragon is a Star Wars ripoff. Yes).
    ~ Mirriam

    1. I commented a while back on your Sherlock/Rumpelstiltskin post, and started following your blog (which is lovely, by the way.) Glad you found my blog! :)



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